WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 11, 2010 It may be true that energy resources derived from Canada’s oil-sands today are 33 percent less carbon-intensive than they were a decade ago. It may be true that emissions from the oil-sands are lower than heavy oil production in many U.S. states. And it also may be true that diverting millions of barrels a day of secure, oil-sands energy to far-away China may actually increase global GHG emissions – all while costing Americans their jobs, and expanding our already dangerous dependence on energy from the Middle East.
Unfortunately, for executives at Whole Foods and Bed Bath & Beyond, none of that seems to matter.
Following the announcement yesterday that these two companies — in partnership with the environmental pressure group ForestEthics — will attempt to purge oil sands-derived energy from their transportation fleets, Michael Whatley, vice-president of Consumer Energy Alliance and a leading American expert on the oil-sands, released the following statement:
“The anti-oil sands position taken by these companies fails to take into account that GHG emissions from oil sands are comparable to other U.S. crude oil imports – and continue to go lower every year,” said Whatley. “More than that, it fails to recognize that turning our backs on this secure, affordable, North American energy resource will simply allow our competitors in China and elsewhere to claim energy that would’ve otherwise come to us — rendering our country even more dependent on the Middle East for its energy.”
According to a story posted yesterday by the Canadian Press, Whole Foods’ master plan to purge its transportation fleet of energy derived from the oil-sands appears to be focused on a single refinery in a single state – begging the question of how the company intends to apply this new policy to its remaining 288 locations spread across three countries. Also left unaddressed is how Whole Foods locations in states such as Montana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois can possibly expect to comply with this stricture – given that more than 50 percent of petroleum supplies available in these states come from Canada.
“These announcements send a troubling message to our closest strategic and trading ally,” Whatley added, citing our nation’s long-time partnership with Canada. “One can only assume these companies will also boycott heavy oil produced in places like California, Mexico and Venezuela – as well as crude produced in the Middle East, and then shipped over 10,000 miles to get here. Otherwise, this exercise seems fairly hypocritical in the best case, and downright disingenuous in the worst.”
The announcements will certainly be welcome news to our competitors in China, who would like nothing more than to claim for themselves the secure, affordable, North American energy resources that would have otherwise be sent to consumers here in the U.S. In particular, Whatley pointed to the recent investment by the Chinese government of nearly $2 billion to purchase oil-sands concessions in Alberta – the clearest indication yet that the Chinese are actively working to secure these resources for themselves.
Independent analyses have also confirmed this plan. According to a report compiled by President Obama’s top energy analyst at the U.S. Department of Energy, closing off U.S. markets to oil-sands energy would simply open up new opportunities for China to send that energy thousands of miles abroad, potentially increasing global greenhouse gas emissions while rendering the United States even more dependent on unstable Middle East oil to run its economy.
“While CEA stands four-square against the decision made by these firms this week, we also recognize this may be an opportunity to work with these companies – and others that might be considering a similar course of action – to educate them on what the oil-sands are really about, and how they can be used to create jobs here at home and strengthen America’s energy security, all while protecting and preserving our environment,” Whatley concluded.
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